The smell of fresh herbs, the sound of laughter and the sight of smiles are a constant on Saturday mornings in downtown Iowa City. For the past 50 years, local farmers and vendors have gathered to get their various products directly into customers’ hands.
The owner of Rare Bird Soap Shop, Wendy Fugate, has been a vendor at the market for the past 10 years.
“It’s always been such a great market,” Fugate said. “Consistency is key to success, and that’s been one of [farmers market’s] strengths. I’ve seen vendors come and go, but it always had the same spirit.”
Fugate appreciates the community that has been built around the market.
“I love all of the customers and the vendors. We’re a family, and we make a lot of friends here, so it’s just fun,” she said.
The exposure that the farmers market receives has allowed vendors to impact communities outside of Iowa City. Floyd Otdoerfer, the owner of Wolf River Bees, has been a farmers market vendor for the past 12 years. Otdoerfer sells natural honey and uses his proceeds to donate to indigenous populations in South Dakota.
“I collect winter items, food, and clothing and take a load to Crow Creek Reservation. I take it to the tribal headquarters, and [I’m] getting it right to the people that need it,” Otdoerfer said.
To Iowa City resident, Karla Kamal, the essence of the market is bringing people together. She has attended the market for the past 35 years, and can’t imagine Iowa City without it.
“[The farmers market] is a really great community place for people to come. A lot of people love doing it, and it’s a real Iowa City staple.”
Check out the farmers market next Saturday morning Sep 3.